Many students at the University of Evansville and the University of Southern Indiana will have a leg up on their peers when they apply for their first post-college job. Thanks to partnerships with local businesses, students at these two universities are able to gain real world experience before they step foot into the professional world.
The Institute for Global Enterprise at UE exists to help students and companies become more competitive and successful in a global marketplace, says Katie Ciccarelli, the institute’s executive director. One of the programs sponsored by the institute — the Global Assistance Program — aims to bridge the gap between industry and academia.
“Student teams work under faculty who are industry experts who serve as coaches on real world projects that matter to our partners,” she says.
The GAP program, funded by Lilly Endowment Inc., is designed as a cross-disciplinary program where students from all majors are able to collaborate on various projects with regional partners.
On a recent project with Berry Plastics, engineering, environmental science, liberal arts, marketing, and communication students studied innovative ways for companies to be more environmentally friendly. The partnership also aids regional businesses, adds Ciccarelli.
“Sometimes companies struggle with the same challenges for years,” she says. “When a student team comes with a creative, different approach, that’s one of the most valuable things a company goes away with.”
More than two dozen regional businesses currently work with the Institute for Global Enterprise at UE, including Berry Plastics, Alcoa, Gibbs Die Casting, Curvo Labs, and Deaconess Health.
Students in USI’s Romain College of Business are deriving considerable benefits from USI’s partnership with SS&C Technologies through the SS&C Investment Accounting Accelerator. SS&C, a global software provider, opened an office in Evansville in 2011. Through the assistance of faculty members, students have access to sophisticated software relating to accounting and reporting for investments undertaken by hedge funds, insurers, and pension funds made possible by SS&C.
Dr. Mohammed Khayum, dean of the Romain College of Business, says students gain relevant and invaluable work experience through practical application through the partnership. In the classroom, students are able to explore “frameworks for recognizing business opportunities and innovative thinking,” says Khayum.
Over the last several years, students have worked on the challenge of designing an alternative to the cardboard pizza box with Berry Plastics. They also have provided ideas on new tent designs for Anchor Industries. Two new challenges for students — one involving the health care sector and another focused on the business impacts of cloud-based technologies — will launch this fall, says Khayum.